By Ray Negron
I have known Goose Gossage for 45 years and have been friends with him for 40 years. To say that he is one of the toughest guys I have ever known would be an understatement.
I saw him go after Cliff Johnson, one of the meanest looking Yankees ever, because Cliff said that he felt that he hit him in the National League like he owned him. When Cliff said that he sure did say that – and some other choice words – Goose proceeded to break his hand on Cliff’s face.
To say that Goose is one of the sweetest Yankees ever would also be an understatement. In 1981 when I was getting married, Goose came over to me in the locker room and apologized because he couldn’t come to my wedding. But he went out of his way to find out what I would need in my house and made sure that it was delivered to my home before the wedding.
I saw him call George Steinbrenner “fat man” in a fit of anger and in the next breath, tell him how much he loved him, and you can be guaranteed that Goose loved the Boss very much.
Gossage has always been a very kind and generous individual who always treated his teammates, black and white, like they were his biological brothers.
Pete Sheehy, the wonderful equipment manager during that era, who as many Yankees fans know was also there during the days of Babe Ruth, used to say that Gossage had a personality as close to Babe Ruth as any player he had ever known.
From anything I have ever heard from Pete and many of the Babe’s family members, I would have to agree. The one difference is that in public after his career, the Babe would never have insulted a Yankee official in the media the way Goose insulted Brian Cashman.
I know this for a fact. When Babe Ruth wanted to manage the Yankees and he was declined because he was asked how he could manage the Yankees if he couldn’t manage himself, he was very upset.
Reporters tried to egg him on so that he would rip the Yankees in the press but he wouldn’t do it. One reporter even asked him if he was mad at baseball after all that he (the Babe) had done for the game. The Babe answered, “How can I be mad with baseball after all that this great game has given me?”
Like Goose, I consider myself an old school guy. However, I have to understand that with the passage of time all things must change and there isn’t much that we can do about that.
Baseball is still the greatest game in the world. Goose has to live up to his responsibilities of being one of the game’s most loved personalities, one who is looked up to by parents who are telling their kids who Goose Gossage was and is.
These kids don’t need to see the kind of statements that the Goose made to the media this week.
I spoke to quite a few of Gossage’s former teammates and they hope that as time passes this too shall pass — for life is much too short to waste on this kind of drama.
Let’s not forget that we just buried our beloved teammate, Oscar Gamble, on Friday. I can guarantee you a million dollars that Oscar would trade places with all parties right now.
Goose, I hope that you let this go because Yankee fans love the Goose Gossage that I love. You know who that guy is.
Oscar Gamble? You rest in peace my dear brother.
Ray Negron’s baseball blog is on theraynegronstory.com site. The Bronx native can be heard on weekends on IMPACT on ESPN Radio 1050am talking baseball and entertainment. He writes a weekly column for NY Sports Day, Newsmax and Baseball America. A powerful and inspirational speaker, he passionately shares his amazing journey, revealing his experience with the Bronx Bombers, his special relationship with George Steinbrenner and what it was like to hang around some of baseball’s greats. For more information about Ray, check out his website batboyhelps.com